Did you know that you don't need soap and water to really clean your face? If you have sensitive skin, are prone to acne, have rosacea, or want to avoid using cleansers on your face then this blog post is for you!
A Natural Skin Care Solution
Clear, glowing, dewy-looking skin, free of blackheads, pimples, cysts, and other imperfections seems to be an elusive goal. The booming skin care industry would have you believe the same with their claims of the need to rid your skin of oil completely and apply burning chemicals in order to avoid these imperfections. Modern society has been so strongly influenced by these marketing claims that some find themselves washing the delicate and easily-inflamed tissue of their facial skin with "grease cutting" or "antibacterial" dish and hand soap only to find that their skin condition worsens. The anxiety that rises when yet another pimple flares up or another painful lump begins forming beneath the skin sends many into overdrive in attempt to counter the impending damage, but does it ever work? Does the panicked scrubbing, disinfecting, and drying ever work? Why is it that if something works for a few days, or if you get lucky, a few weeks, the long term brings the blemishes back? The cycle seems endless. It's exhausting. It's painful. It's embarrassing. It's expensive!
The reasons we have so much trouble with mainstream skin care products are numerous, but two reasons, in particular, lead the pack. These products strip the oil out of our skin, leaving our largest organ trying to repair itself by replacing the oil stripped away. This leaves us in a cycle of being tight and dry followed by the inevitable oil slick. Each time we strip the oil away, our skin over-compensates for the lack of moisture by creating more oil. On top of the drying effects, these products are highly-scented. Fragrance is one of the top skin irritants and strangely enough, even the so-called "unscented" products usually contain fragrance. See for yourself and check the labels. Dry, irritated skin replaced by oily skin, inflamed and trapping debris?
If we know what our body is going to do and understand the process, we can then understand what it takes to control it and achieve the results we want. Clear skin is attainable.
Getting right down to basics, when cleansing and moisturizing your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. Your skin naturally lubricates itself with oil, and as we are creatures of adaptation, one can believe that if this weren't the appropriate built-in care for ourselves, our bodies would have adapted to suit the need. If you've been battling your skin for long, you're probably recoiling at the mere thought of applying oil to your face. You can imagine the slick, greasy, clogging feeling of smearing sludge all over your face. If you stay with me and read the rest of this article, that mental image will be replaced by a more comforting, Zen-like image of a relaxing spa massage. I promise. Let your curiosity get the better of you, read the article, then decide if you should give this method of skin care a go.
Oil in Skin Care
Do not be afraid of applying oil to your face. Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads...these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly. Properly functioning skin is beautiful, clear, and glowing. Learning to work with your skin, not against it, will save you tremendously.
While we're talking about clarifying your skin externally, we must also touch on the internal aspect. WATER! Drink no less than 8 glasses of water a day. If your skin has issues with blemishes, drink up! Water will help release and remove the toxins from within, lessening the load on your skin to push the toxins out. Carry a bottle of water around with you throughout the day so water is always available.
Now, to the main point of this article.
The Basics of Cleansing with Oil
The basic concept of this skin care and cleansing method is that the oil used to massage your skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened with impurities and found itself stuck in your pores. The steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. Should you need it, the smallest drop of the same oil formula patted over damp skin will provide the necessary lubrication to keep your skin from over-compensating in oil production.
We will need two oils. The first, and most importantly, is castor oil. If you don't have this medicine cabinet staple already, it can be found online or in the laxative section of your grocer or drugstore - usually bottom shelf. Castor oil has potent anti-inflammatory properties, but is also healing and cleansing, which is why we're focusing on this oil as our primary oil. Castor oil has been the focus of many books and medical discussion because of its seemingly "magical" healing properties. As quoted in The Oil That Heals by Dr. McGarey, he states, "Castor oil will leave the body in better condition than it found it." Though it may be our most important oil, we won't be using it in the amounts that we will the other oil (or combination of oils for those who want to take this a step further). A little bit of castor oil goes a long way and too much will leave you, surprisingly, with dry skin.
Since castor oil is so thick and its cleansing properties so strong, we need to dilute it with another oil, thinner in consistency, but no less nurturing to the skin. Sunflower seed oil has become my personal favorite, though in the past, I've suggested extra virgin olive oil. Both are wonderfully caring oils for skin application, but I've found that sunflower seed oil has a more luxurious feel for massage. It sinks into the skin better, aiding the castor oil in transportation deep into the pores and allowing it to draw the dirt and grime to the surface of your skin where it can be wiped away. The essential fatty acids, though they are not naturally occurring in the body, are a necessity for the health of our cell membranes. These acids help restore the skins natural moisture balance and help prevent unnecessary dryness. The secondary oil that you choose is entirely up to you and should be determined by your skins needs and the properties of that oil. Choose from organic, natural, cold-pressed vegetable, seed, or nut oils, as these have nutrients, vitamins, and fatty acids that mineral oil and other refined oils don't. You may even have these oils in your kitchen, as they're used for cooking, as well! For the sake of explanation, from this point on, we'll say "Sunflower seed oil" in place of "secondary oil." Remember that sunflower seed oil may be replaced by any oil of your choice.
Your Personal Oil Blend
The starting point for creating your own, personalized skin cleansing oil blend is knowing your general skin type. Those with dry skin will want less castor oil. Those with oily skin will want to blend in more. Finding your perfect combination of oils will probably take a little bit of trial and error, so start with very small batches. Once you know what your ratio of oils looks like, you'll be able to blend much more at a time for convenience.
Some suggestions in creating your blend of deep cleansing oil:
- Oily skin: Try a blend of 30% castor oil to 70% sunflower seed oil.
- Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% castor oil to 80% sunflower seed oil.
- Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% castor oil to 90% sunflower seed oil.
You can vary these percentages to match your own skins needs. If your skin feels too dry, you'll need to use less castor oil and replace it with more sunflower seed oil. Keep in mind that castor oil is the drawing, cleansing, and purging oil for your pores. It's okay if you find you only need a very small percentage of castor oil in your blend. The sunflower seed oil is to dilute the castor oil in viscosity (thickness) and additionally provide moisture, nutrients, and other benefits. My own, personal blend, for my sometimes oily, sometimes dry, frequently flakey, and easily irritated skin is about 25% castor oil to 75% sunflower seed oil. I mix and store my mixture in a clean four-ounce flip-top bottle for convenience. When you go to replenish your oil blend, I suggest cleaning your bottle thoroughly with dish soap or the dishwasher. Better yet, if you can replace the bottle, this is ideal. We want to be extremely cautious and avoid introducing bacteria or water to the bottle.
The Oil Cleansing Method
First and foremost, this is typically done in the evening, prior to bed. There should be no need for deep cleansing in the morning if you're waking up with skin cleansed the night before. In the morning, a quick wipe with a warm washcloth should suffice. We don't want to over cleanse our skin as this will serve only to irritate and cause more oil production. The objective of using this cleansing method is to deep clean while balancing our skins oil production at the same time.
- You'll need a soft washcloth, your oil blend, and hot, running water.
- Pour a generous puddle of oil into the palm of your hand. Roughly, the size of a quarter. Rub your hands together to warm the oil and smooth it over your face.
- Begin massaging the oil into your face. This will remove sunscreen, makeup, dirt, and other impurities, so there is no need to use a makeup remover or wash your face prior to the massage. I've found that this removes even my stubborn waterproof mascara and concealer.
- Using slow, firm motions across the skin, massage the oil deeply into your pores. Take your time and focus on your problem areas. You want the oil to work into your pores so that blackheads and impurities can be dissolved and steamed away.
- As you're massaging, let your mind drift off to something calming and breathe deeply. Take this time to relax and release some of the stress that your body is harboring. Sit down, breathe deeply, and take your time. Give the oil enough time to work on dissolving the impurities in your pores and give yourself enough time to unwind.
- Once you're satisfied that your pores are saturated and you're feeling calm, pick up your washcloth and soak it in clean, steamy water. We want the water to be warm enough to further soften your pores and remove the oil. Cool water will not soften your pores, nor will it remove the oil efficiently. We're not scalding our skin, we're steaming to coax our pores to release the oil carrying the impurities. We're essentially steaming our skin as an esthetician would, but without the luxury of a steam machine.
- Hold the washcloth to cover your face. Allow it to stay until it cools. You will feel your pores softening and releasing the impurities. Wipe the oil gently away and rinse the washcloth well in hot, running water. Hold the washcloth to your face again, allowing it to cool. Wipe gently, rinse well, and repeat two or three more times. Avoid any temptation to scrub, as you'll find it's completely unnecessary and your skin will be soft, smooth, and free of flakes without the additional manual exfoliation and irritation that will result. Impurities, dead skin cells, and bacteria will be gently swept away.
- Have no fear of the oil, as the steamy washcloth will remove it. The castor oil, though it is an oil, will help with the removal of the other oils, as well. It is our main cleansing oil and is easily removed with warm water.
- If your skin feels tight, take a tiny drop of your oil blend, rub it between your clean, damp palms and pat it onto your damp skin. Gently massage any oil residue into your skin so there is no film of oil left sitting on the surface. Your skin should now glow!
The writers at The Oil Cleansing Method have put together a helpful DIY and I wanted to share it with you here! Thank you to them for their hard work! Read more about organic, natural skin care at www.theoilcleansingmethod.com